The Descendants ★★★★★

"Sideways" may be my favorite Alexander Payne movie, this is a neck-and-neck competitor because of the way George Clooney is an emotional lightning rod for the feelings swirling around the film. His lawyer character is a wealthy landowner whose estranged wife has been mortally wounded and is lingering before dying, so he has to close all her accounts and prepare for her death. What he didn't know is that she was stepping out on him, so his feelings in her final stages are jagged and conflicted. Clooney does his finest job to date essaying Matt King, a caring father and inattentive husband in over his head in the business of grief. There are so many moments in this movie which cut like lemon juice through melted butter, and I'm reduced to tears by Clooney as my proxy. This is a work of art, but I don't know if I could adequately convince someone who doesn't already know me well.

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